Oxford Circus - new Pedestrian Crossing - Justify council claims

Kwame Opoku made this Freedom of Information request to Westminster City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Westminster City Council,

In your press release of 2-11-10, the headline is "In its first year more people have walked across the Oxford Circus crossing than live in the UK and Australia combined".

This implies the 90M are all different people.

Please justify this claim.

I say this is a misleading piece of advertising, and will refer this to the ASA unless you can back up your claims.

How was the number measured and calculated, and what were the numbers of people who used the crossing more than once?

Please provide a table showing the numbers calculated to use the crossing, for example in the year (use other suitable numbers if that suits your data better):

once only
2-5 times
6-10 times
11-20 times
21-50 times
51-100 times
101-500 times
501+ times

How many different people are estimated to have used this crossing in the year?

--

Your press release also says the new crossing "has helped boost annual sales figures in the West End which are up by 7 per cent"

Please explain why should there be any connection between the new crossing and the increase in trade you mention.

Please explain and justify the claim that the new crossing has in fact had any effect, and quantify this.

--

You go on to claim:

"London hasn't seen a more significant improvement to its public realm than the Oxford Circus diagonal crossing in the last quarter of a century".

What does "London" mean in this context?

Please justify the claim that the change to the Oxford Circus pedestrian crossing is more significant than any other change "to its public realm", for example by comparing it with the changes made to the layout to Trafalgar Square over the past decade.

--

Next you assert that "£100 million is being invested from public and private partners into sprucing up the area's public spaces and include improvements to Berwick Street, Mount Street, Regent Street and Marble Arch fountain"

Please provide any analysis to show that this is a sound investment, ie what rate of return do you estimate it will achieve and to whom?

Please also provide similar analysis for the £5M spent on this new crossing.

--

Lastly, nowhere does the article state how many used the crossing in the year before the upgrade.

You imply there has been a substantial increase.

Please provide your best estimate of the numbers using the crossing before the upgrade, and the effects on this number during the construction phase.

--

The weblink for your press release is

http://www.westminster.gov.uk/press-rele...

Yours faithfully,

Kwame Opoku

Westminster City Council

Confirmation of Freedom Of Information Request

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request details have now been recorded and will be passed on to the
appropriate Divisional Records Officer for action.

This Freedom Of Information Request was based on the following
information:

Name: Kwame Opoku
Address: see email address
Email: [FOI #51365 email]
Telephone:
Request Details: Request for information relating to Press Release of
2-11-10, the headline is "In its first year more people have walked across
the Oxford Circus crossing than live in the UK and Australia combined".
How was the number measured and calculated, and what were the numbers of
people who used the crossing more than once?
Please provide a table showing the numbers calculated to use the crossing,
for example in the year (use other suitable numbers if that suits your
data better):

once only
2-5 times
6-10 times
11-20 times
21-50 times
51-100 times
101-500 times
501+ times

How many different people are estimated to have used this crossing in the
year?

Please justify the claim that the change to the Oxford Circus pedestrian
crossing is more significant than any other change "to its public realm",
for example by comparing it with the changes made to the layout to
Trafalgar Square over the past decade.

Next you assert that "£100 million is being invested from public and
private partners into sprucing up the area's public spaces and include
improvements to Berwick Street, Mount Street, Regent Street and Marble
Arch fountain"

Please provide any analysis to show that this is a sound investment, ie
what rate of return do you estimate it will achieve and to whom?
Please also provide similar analysis for the £5M spent on this new
crossing.
Please provide your best estimate of the numbers using the crossing before
the upgrade, and the effects on this number during the construction phase.

FOI Reference Number: 6154
Target Completion Date: 08/12/2010

Please do not reply to this email.
This is an automatic response to your request, and replies to this message
will not be actioned.

If you need to contact Westminster City Council regarding your request,
please contact:

mailto:[Westminster City Council request email]
Tel:020 7641 3921

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FOI, Westminster City Council

Dear Mr Opoku

Thank you for your recent request for information to the council. An acknowledgement containing your reference number has been provided under separate cover. Please note that only those questions which constitute a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 i.e. requests for recorded information have been logged. I have forwarded the remainder of your questions to the Communications team for their response.

You may also find the Information Commissioner's guidance on the Freedom of Information Act, including how to make a request for information a useful source of information: http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/off...

Yours sincerely

Knowledge and Information Management Team
Information Services
Westminster City Council
101 Orchardson Street
London NW8 8EA
Tel: 020 7641 3921
Fax: 020 7641 2872
Email: [Westminster City Council request email]
www.westminster.gov.uk

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Begley, Charles, Westminster City Council

Dear Kwame Opoku,

Please find a response to your FOI ref 6154 below.

I believe you have already been informed that some of your original
questions were not valid requests under Freedom of Information legislation
as they were not requesting recorded information, but asking for
descriptions/explanations of terms used.

Several other of your questions could arguably also be classified
likewise, as they are not strictly requests for recorded information. But
I have sought to answer your questions as fully as possible.

FOI 6154

Request for information relating to Press Release of 2-11-10, the headline
is "In its first year more people have walked across the Oxford Circus
crossing than live in the UK and Australia combined".

How was the number measured and calculated, and what were the numbers of
people who used the crossing more than once?

Footfall figures for the West End show that on average approximately
250,000 people visit Oxford Circus each day. Multiplying that over the
course of 365 days is 91,250 000

A report by independent engineering consultancy Atkins which conducted the
design of the crossing, undertook pedestrian analysis of footway traffic.
This showed that 43 000 people and 2000 vehicles pass through Oxford
Circus every hour during the busiest parts of the day. But the simplest
number to use was based on daily footfall rather than extrapolating peak
time traffic.

Whether somebody makes the trip once, or twice, is irrelevant for the
purposes of footfall. The comparison of populations of other countries is
to enable people to be able to understand the sort of figures involved
given how popular the area is as a destination.

Please provide a table showing the numbers calculated to use the crossing,
for example in the year (use other suitable numbers if that suits your
data better):

once only

2-5 times

6-10 times

11-20 times

21-50 times

51-100 times

101-500 times

501+ times
We do not have this data

How many different people are estimated to have used this crossing in the
year?
We do not have this data

Please justify the claim that the change to the Oxford Circus pedestrian
crossing is more significant than any other change "to its public realm",
for example by comparing it with the changes made to the layout to
Trafalgar Square over the past decade.

That is a quote taken from David Shaw, Head of Regent Street Portfolio at
The Crown Estate. It is his opinion which he is free to express, and also
qualified given the vast portfolio of property owned by The Crown Estate
which is a hugely successful organisation and has invested heavily in both
the West End and other parts of the UK. The full statement is below:

David Shaw, Head of Regent Street Portfolio at The Crown Estate said:
"London hasn't seen a more significant improvement to its public realm
than the Oxford Circus diagonal crossing in the last quarter of a century.
The Crown Estate now looks forward to building upon this achievement with
improvements at Piccadilly Circus by 2012, together with our partners,
Westminster City Council and Transport for London."

However the public and Londoners themselves have shown a great amount of
interest in the Oxford Circus crossing. The launch generated substantial
digital and social media interest. Google lists 4,869 separate blog
entries for the 'Oxford Circus Crossing'. The council's posting of the
computer generated model of the crossing on YouTube has been viewed more
than 5,000 times. In total 30 separate postings of footage of both the
animation and footage taken from the launch event and the general shots of
the crossing have been viewed more than 30,000 times. The Guardian online
version has been viewed more than 17,000 times, and the same animation was
posted by BBC online and various other news outlets. The launch itself was
covered by virtually every single national newspaper, and a photo of the
crossing dominated the front page of The Times.

Next you assert that "£100 million is being invested from public and
private partners into sprucing up the area's public spaces and include
improvements to Berwick Street, Mount Street, Regent Street and Marble
Arch fountain"

Please provide any analysis to show that this is a sound investment, i.e.
what rate of return do you estimate it will achieve and to whom?

The West End is incredibly important to London's economy. Retail in the
West End contributes £6billion a year to the UK economy. More than
350,000 jobs are generated in the West End. As a local authority if our
businesses thrive and generate employment, as they are doing, that is an
excellent return on investment. The importance of the economy of the West
End is clear, it is the UK's largest night time economy, it contains more
licensed premises than other town or city in the country, it contains the
largest hub of creative industries in the world - which generate £1bn+
for the economy. The theatre industry generates £2bn+, 98% of all London
tourists visit Westminster. The contribution to UK plc is immense.

The private sector element of the £100m investment is by far the largest
element. Also, as well as welcoming 200million visitors a year, the West
End is home to a large number of residents, who rightly expect local
councils to invest in their local areas. So across Westminster 33,000
businesses benefit, 300,000 people with jobs benefit, 200million visitors,
and the 36,000 residents who live in the West End and the wider 235,000
strong population of Westminster. Ultimately, with increased economic
activity has seen an increase in business rates, which are collected by
local councils on behalf of central Government. That money is them
redistributed across the UK by the Treasury. Last year Westminster
collected more business rates than Birmingham and the City of London
combined, a total in excess of £1.1billion. The recipients of that money
are spread across the UK.

Please also provide similar analysis for the £5M spent on this new
crossing.
The business case evaluation conducted by engineering consultancy Atkins
concluded that the diagonals scheme paid for itself within the first year.
When actual journey times are applied the benefits of the scheme are
£5,372,631 per annum. In addition pedestrian journey times for crossing
Oxford Circus have more than halved and there has been 10% reduction in
personal injury accidents.

Lastly, nowhere does the article state how many used the crossing in the
year before the upgrade. You imply there has been a substantial increase.
Please provide your best estimate of the numbers using the crossing
before the upgrade, and the effects on this number during the
construction phase.

That is correct. The article does not state how many used the crossing the
year before the upgrade. We do not have that data. The press release does
not refer to any increase either, just the current estimate. The main aim
of the crossing was not to increase footfall per se. We state the busy
intersection has given the millions of shoppers and visitors to the West
End around 70 per cent more freedom to move around.

A survey carried out on behalf of the New West End Company, the local
Business Improvement District, on 5.12.09 found that 56% of shoppers said
they chose to visit the West End more often as a direct result of the new
diagonal crossing.
The West End Sales Index, a survey of the top 60 major retailers also
carried out by NWEC, showed sales increases of 10.6% in November 2009
after the Oxford Circus launch on the previous year. And the success of
the event appears borne out by footfall figures for Oxford Street which
increased by 120,000 on the previous week to 3.98million, with Regent
Street recording a 60,000 increase to 1.14million

Please also provide similar analysis for the £5M spent on this new
crossing.
The funding breakdown for the scheme was included in notes to editors for
journalists' information in the press release, and that is below. But for
a full and detailed breakdown of costs you will need to approach the
organisations concerned which funded it.

The cost of the scheme is just over £5m. The funding is made up of:

Transport for London: £2.85 m

The Crown Estate:£2.5m

If you have any queries please contact me.

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625-545-700

[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Regards,

Charles Begley
Media Relations Manager
Westminster City Council
020 7641 3041
24hr press line: 020 7641 2259

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References

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